Reasons Why Our Government Asks Us to Save Wheat, with Practical Recipes for the Use of Other Grains
A slice of bread seems an unimportant thing. Yet one good-sized slice of bread weighs an ounce. It contains almost three-fourths of an ounce of flour.
If every one of the country's 20,000,000 homes wastes on the average only one such slice of bread a day, the country is throwing away daily over 14,000,000 ounces of flour—over 875,000 pounds, or enough flour for over a million one-pound loaves a day. For a full year at this rate there would be a waste of over 319,000,000 pounds of flour—1,500,000 barrels—enough flour to make 365,000,000 loaves.
As it takes four and one-half bushels of wheat to make a barrel of ordinary flour, this waste would represent the flour from over 7,000,000 bushels of wheat. Fourteen and nine-tenths bushels of wheat on the average are raised per acre. It would take the product of some 470,000 acres just to provide a single slice of bread to be wasted daily in every home.
But some one says, "a full slice of bread is not wasted in every home." Very well, make it a daily slice for every four or every ten or every thirty homes—make it a weekly or monthly slice in every home—or make the wasted slice thinner. The waste of flour involved is still appalling. These are figures compiled by government experts, and they should give pause to every housekeeper who permits a slice of bread to be wasted in her home.
Another source of waste of which few of us take account is home-made bread. Sixty per cent. of the bread used in America is made in the home. When one stops to consider how much home-made bread is poorly made, and represents a large waste of flour, yeast and fuel, this housewifely energy is not so commendable. The bread flour used in the home is also in the main wheat flour, and all waste of wheat at the present time increases the shortage of this most necessary food.
Fuel, too, is a serious national problem, and all coal used in either range, gas, or electric oven for the baking of poor bread is an actual national loss. There must be no waste in poor baking or from poor care after the bread is made, or from the waste of a crust or crumb.
Waste in your kitchen means starvation in some other kitchen across the sea. Our Allies are asking for 450,000,000 bushels of wheat, and we are told that even then theirs will be a privation loaf. Crop shortage and unusual demand has left Canada and the United States, which are the largest sources of wheat, with but 300,000,000 bushels available for export. The deficit must be met by reducing consumption on this side the Atlantic. This can be done by eliminating waste and by making use of cereals and flours other than wheat in bread-making.
The wide use of wheat flour for bread-making has been due to custom. In Europe rye and oats form the staple breads of many countries, and in some sections of the [pg 13] South corn-bread is the staff of life. We have only to modify a little our bread-eating habits in order to meet the present need. Other cereals can well be used to eke out the wheat, but they require slightly different handling.
In making yeast breads, the essential ingredient is gluten, which is extended by carbon dioxide gas formed by yeast growth. With the exception of rye, grains other than wheat do not contain sufficient gluten for yeast bread, and it is necessary to use a wheat in varying proportions in order to supply the deficient gluten. Even the baker's rye loaf is usually made of one-half rye and one-half wheat. This is the safest proportion for home use in order to secure a good texture.
When oatmeal is used, it is necessary to scald the oatmeal to prevent a raw taste. Oatmeal also makes a softer dough than wheat, and it is best to make the loaf smaller and bake it longer: about one hour instead of the forty-five minutes which we allow for wheat bread.
The addition of one-third barley flour to wheat flour makes a light colored, good flavored bread. If a larger proportion than this is used, the loaf has a decided barley flavor. If you like this flavor and increase the proportion of barley, be sure to allow the dough a little longer time to rise, as by increasing the barley you weaken the gluten content of your loaf.
Rice and cornmeal can be added to wheat breads in a 10 per cent. proportion. Laboratory tests have shown that any greater proportion than this produces a heavy, small loaf.
Potato flour or mashed potato can be used to extend the wheat, it being possible to work in almost 50 per cent. of potato, but this makes a darker and moister loaf than when wheat alone is used. In order to take care of this [pg 14] moisture, it is best to reserve part of the wheat for the second kneading.
Graham and entire wheat flour also effect a saving of wheat because a larger percentage of the wheat berry is used. Graham flour is the whole kernel of wheat, ground. Entire wheat flour is the flour resulting from the grinding of all but the outer layer of wheat. A larger use of these coarser flours will therefore help materially in eking out our scant wheat supply as the percentage of the wheat berry used for bread flour is but 72 per cent. Breads made from these coarser flours also aid digestion and are a valuable addition to the dietary.
In order to keep down waste by eliminating the poor batch of bread, it is necessary to understand the principles of bread-making. Fermentation is the basic principle of yeast bread, and fermentation is controlled by temperature. The yeast plant grows at a temperature from 70 to 90 degrees (Fahrenheit), and if care is taken to maintain this temperature during the process of fermentation, waste caused by sour dough or over-fermentation will be eliminated. When we control the temperature we can also reduce the time necessary for making a loaf of bread, or several loaves of bread as may be needed, into as short a period as three hours. This is what is known as the quick method. It not only saves time and labor, but, controlling the temperature, insures accurate results. The easiest way to control the temperature is to put the bowl containing the dough into another of slightly larger size containing water at a temperature of 90 degrees. The water of course should never be hot. Hot water kills the yeast plant. Cold water checks its growth. Cover the bowl and set it in the gas oven or fireless cooker or on the shelf of the coal range. As the water in the large bowl cools off, remove a cupful and add a cupful of hot water. At the end of one and one-half hours the [pg 15] dough should have doubled in bulk. Take it out of the pan and knead until the large gas bubbles are broken (about ten minutes). Then place in greased bread pans and allow to rise for another half hour. At the end of this time it will not only fill the pan, but will project out of it. Do not allow the dough to rise too high, for then the bread will have large holes in it. A good proportion as a general rule to follow, is:
3½ cupfuls of flour (this includes added cereals)
1 cupful of water or milk
½ tablespoon shortening
1½ teaspoons salt
1 cake of compressed yeast
In this recipe sugar has been omitted because of the serious shortage, but after the war a teaspoon of sugar should be added. The shortening, although small in quantity, may also be omitted.
These materials make a loaf of about one pound, which should be baked in forty to fifty minutes at a temperature of 450 degrees (Fahrenheit). Allow a little longer time for bread containing oatmeal or other grains. Such breads require a little longer baking and a little lower temperature than wheat breads. If you do not use a thermometer in testing your oven, place a piece of paper on the center shelf, and if it browns in two minutes your oven is right. If a longer period for raising is allowed than is suggested in the above recipe, the yeast proportion should be decreased. For overnight bread use one-quarter yeast cake per loaf; for six-hour bread, use one-half yeast cake per loaf; for three-hour bread, use one yeast cake per loaf. In baking, the time allowed should depend on the size of the loaf. When baked at a temperature of 450 degrees, large loaves take from forty-five to sixty minutes, small loaves from thirty to forty minutes, rolls from ten to twenty minutes.
It is well to divide the oven time into four parts. During the first quarter, the rising continues; second quarter, browning begins; the third quarter, browning is finished; [pg 16] the fourth quarter, bread shrinks from the side of the pan. These are always safe tests to follow in your baking. When baked, the bread should be turned out of the pans and allow to cool on a wire rack. When cool, put the bread in a stone crock or bread box. To prevent staleness, keep the old bread away from the fresh—scald the bread crock or give your bread box a sun bath at frequent intervals.
Even with all possible care to prevent waste, yeast breads will not conserve our wheat supply so well as quick breads, because all yeast breads need a larger percentage of wheat. The home baker can better serve her country by introducing into her menus numerous quick breads that can be made from cornmeal, rye, corn and rye, hominy, and buckwheat. Griddle cakes and waffles can also be made from lentils, soy beans, potatoes, rice and peas.
Do not expect that the use of other cereals in bread-making will reduce the cost of your bread. That is not the object. Saving of wheat for war needs is the thing we are striving for, and this is as much an act of loyalty as buying Liberty Bonds. It is to meet the crucial world need of bread that we are learning to substitute, and not to spare the national purse.
Besides this saving of wheat, our Government also asks us to omit all fat from our yeast breads in order to conserve the diminishing fat supply. This may seem impossible to the woman who has never made bread without shortening, but recent experiments in bread-making laboratories have proved that bread, without shortening, is just as light and as good in texture as that made with shortening—the only difference being a slight change in flavor. These experiments have also shown that it is possible to supply shortening by the introduction of 3 per cent. to 5 per cent. of canned cocoanut or of peanut butter, and that sugar may also be omitted from bread-making recipes. In fact, the war is bringing about manifold interesting experiments which prove that edible and nutritious bread can be made of many things besides the usual white flour.
The recipes herewith appended, showing the use of combinations of cereals and wheat, have been carefully tested in The Forecast School of Modern Cookery. Good bread can be made from each recipe, and the new flavors obtained by the use of other grains make a pleasing and wholesome variety.
A family which has eaten oatmeal or entire wheat bread will never again be satisfied with a diet that includes only bread made from bleached flour. Children, especially, will be benefited by the change, as the breads made from coarser flours are not only more nutritious, but are rich in the minerals and vitamin elements that are so essential to the growth of strong teeth, bones and growing tissues.
The homemaker, too, will never regret her larger acquaintance with bread-making materials, as the greater variety of breads that she will find herself able to produce will be a source of pleasure and keen satisfaction.
To Conform to U.S. Food Administration Regulations During the War, Eliminate Fat and Sweetening in Breads—Whenever Fat Is Used, Use Drippings